Minnie Driver, Ambassador for WildAid (an animal conservation group), was a guest on tonight's Cupcake Wars. In addition to a $10,000 prize, the winner of tonight's show would join Minnie at a star-studded fundraising gala to raise money for her cause.
Tonight's contestants included a variety of bakers. First, there was the owner of a specialty bake shop in Milwaukee, WI, that had not yet opened. Her hope was to win in order to gain exposure. Joining her was an online baker from California who referred to himself as the "Jimmy Hendricks" of cupcake baking. His reason, because he uses almost any flavor in his cupcakes. Next was a New Jersey cupcake storefront owner and an online baker out of Georgia.
Challenge 1 tested the competitors on taste. Each contestant was asked to create a cupcake using ingredients from the home of the tiger (Thailand) or elephant (India). Some choices on the table were cilantro, eggplant, potatoes, rice, and red curry. All of the contestants were extremely ambitious and opted to work from tiger table or Thailand. Some chose to use a couple of ingredients from the table, while one baker went for three and another five. Nonetheless, almost all the bakers chose to incorporate curry in their cakes. This became a problem for the Wisconsin contestant when the curry overpowered other flavors in the cake. Later she had more problems when she had to remake her butter cream frosting. The overly ambitious baker who chose five ingredients was told by the judges that it was just too much. The Wisconsin contestant who struggled was surprisingly given great remarks for her butter cream frosting, but the judges did not care for her cake. The California baker worked with coconut, chili, and peanuts. His cake was very much appreciated by the judges. Lastly, the New Jersey contestant with the red chili and chocolate cupcake was criticized for a weak taste of curry and spice. In the end, the Milwaukee baker was sent home this round.
Round 2 challenged the contestants to create cakes that represented the organization in both taste and decor. The Georgia baker knew she had been close to going home, so she hoped to really impress the judges this round. When facing the judges, she was praised for her chocolate/banana cupcake and her natural decorations. The California baker had really impressed in the first round. This round he chose to create cupcakes inspired by animals including the rhinoceros, tiger, and turtle. His plan was to put a caramel brittle on his turtle cake but had problems when the caramel burned. Further, his assistant rearranged the cupcakes, and he didn't know what frosting went on what cupcake. He was praised by the judges for his decorations, but criticized for weak flavors in his cakes. The New Jersey baker went with more simple flavors. She chose both a vanilla and chocolate cupcake with simple fondant cutouts for decorations. In the kitchen, however, she had lots of problems. Her vanilla cupcakes were burnt on the bottom but not done on the top. She hoped to discard those cakes and start again, but the new batch of cupcakes were not done in time, and she had to go back to the original burnt cakes. When facing the judges, she was however given rave reviews, and because of his errors, the California baker was eliminated this round.
The Final Round
The remaining two contestants were then asked to create 1,000 cupcakes and a cupcake display for the fundraising gala. To help complete the project, each contestant was given a carpenter and baking assistants. One contestant wanted her display to be more elegant and black-tie worthy, while the other focused on an animal scene. The New Jersey baker and her assistant became very flustered with an attempt to change one of her recipes. The kitchen thus became chaotic and cupcakes had to be remade. Still, both competitors completed the challenge. For the Georgia baker, the tiger was artistically displayed on a black background. She also added the WildAid name/logo along with a globe, bamboo, and soft lights in her display. The New Jersey baker chose to go with a more fun design. She added a large sculpture of a tiger head in the center of the table surrounded by an ocean, turtle, and elephant. Along with Minnie Driver, the judges chose the Georgia baker as the winner of tonight's Cupcake Wars.